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An Autumn For Crippled Children - "Eternal" (CD)

An Autumn For Crippled Children - "Eternal" CD cover image

"Eternal" track listing:

1. Eternal Youth 04:28
2. I Will Never Let You Die 04:12
3. On Fire 04:20
4. Farewell 03:59
5. This Small Space You Occupied Is So Empty Now 04:52
6. You Have Been In The Shadows For So Long 05:03
7. Days Of Sleep 04:54
8. Swallowed By Night’s Despair 03:26
9. Cloud Mood 04:30
10. Matters Of The Heart 04:51

Reviewed by on September 12, 2016

"In terms of pure atmosphere, An Autumn For Crippled Children absolutely brings it in full force, but an album needs to be more than just atmospheric to be worth listening through repeatedly."

Lured in by the oddly distinctive band name and the promise of an experimental collision of sound to come, I jumped all over “Eternal” by an Autumn For Crippled Children as soon as the first press release hit my inbox. This seemed to be right up my alley: a weird amalgam of atmosphere, non-metal influences, and black metal. Usually, if it sends both the kvlt metal heads and the mainstream radio music fans running screaming for the hills, it's a good bet I'm going to be listening intently with headphones on while solidl banging my head.

Sadly, that wasn't to be the case here with “Eternal.” The album can broadly be compared in some ways to Australian band Germ in that its a blending of abrasive, avant-garde black metal with a synth-driven, non-metal experience. The comparison falls apart when you dive into the specifics, however, and it drives home how this style has been done so much better by other bands.

For starters, the vocals are extremely low in the mix, almost like they are being hidden or trying to be used as a backing instrument instead of the focus. Frankly, it defeats the whole purpose of mixing uplifting rock and electronic music with Satanic black metal if you are going to cover up the black metal aspect. The unchanging, low-volume vocals also lead to what is always an album killer for me: endless repetition.

I always dig when opposing styles get stitched together for a new musical expression, but it feels like this album needs something else added in to take it to the next level, since so much of each track sounds exactly the same. Once the basic groove gets going it's pretty repetitive for the next 4 minutes or so, and then we repeat the process again on the next song. That's a problem when combined with the low-mix vocals that drone on without any distinguishing marks.

There's a base of solid and extremely atmospheric music here that could offer up something unique and engaging, but it's missing an extra element to tie everythign together, like an extra layer of theatricality or a distinguishing instrumental performance. A hauntingly beautiful piano piece, some grandiose or gothic symphonics, a heavier guitar riff or two: honestly anything added in could have broken up the monotony and and offered some contrast.

That's not to say there's no variation present at all on the album. For instance the tone and speed displayed with “On Fire” is on point, and there's actually a tempo change in there to keep things interesting. “Cloud Mood” also brings in some fuzzy, distorted guitars that are more on the metal side. The acoustic strumming ending the album nicely broke up the wall of sound and offered the perfect melancholy feel, and honestly I wish more segments like that had been utilized throughout the earlier tracks.

In terms of pure atmosphere, An Autumn For Crippled Children absolutely brings it in full force, but an album needs to be more than just atmospheric to be worth listening through repeatedly. By the time fourth track “Farewell” rolls around the formula gets incredibly stale, and while the first few tracks are intriguing, I rapidly found myself just waiting for the last song to be over already so I could listen to something more interesting.

Highs: If you love highly atmospheric music, then this might be worth hearing.

Lows: Repetition, monotony, overly quiet black metal vocals (how is that even a thing?), and a lack of distinguishing contrast between songs

Bottom line: Not all avant-garde experiments yield impressive results, and this is one of those times.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)